Resource Review: Moon Rush: The New Space Race by Leonard David

Do you have a student interested in space exploration? Moon Rush: The New Space Race by Leonard David talks about the technology and science that will drive exploring the moon. This book is great for learning about the history of moon exploration and myths about the moon to plans for the future. It’s definitely for high school level and above, although a precocious middle-schooler would probably enjoy reading this one. I’ve shared tidbits from it with my younger students, but it will be shelved with my 10th grade science curriculum.

About Moon Rush

• Hardcover: 224 pages
• Publisher: National Geographic (May 7, 2019)

Veteran space journalist digs into the science and technology–past, present, and future–central to our explorations of Earth’s only satellite, the space destination most hotly pursued today.

In these rich pages, veteran science journalist Leonard David explores the moon in all its facets, from ancient myth to future “Moon Village” plans. Illustrating his text with maps, graphics, and photographs, David offers inside information about how the United States, allies and competitors, as well as key private corporations like Moon Express and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, plan to reach, inhabit, and even harvest the moon in the decades to come.

Spurred on by the Google Lunar XPRIZE–$20 million for the first to get to the moon and send images home–the 21st-century space race back to the moon has become more urgent, and more timely, than ever. Accounts of these new strategies are set against past efforts, including stories never before told about the Apollo missions and Cold War plans for military surveillance and missile launches from the moon. Timely and fascinating, this book sheds new light on our constant lunar companion, offering reasons to gaze up and see it in a different way than ever before.

Social Media

Please use the hashtag #moonrush and tag @tlcbooktours.

Purchase Links

National Geographic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Ideas for Social Activities for Secular Homeschoolers

If you’ve been homeschooling – or even considering homeschooling – then you know that the first question “concerned” people ask is, “What about socialization?” Because of this, one of the most common questions asked in homeschooling groups is, “so what can my kids do as a social activity?” Rest assured, there are many activities for homeschoolers to participate in (in fact, I feel like there are more activities available for homeschooled kids than there are for their public and private school counterparts).

Secular homeschoolers often run up against the wall because many activities appear to center around church groups, and many homeschooling groups are religious in nature (particularly Christian). Some groups, co-ops, and sports clubs for homeschoolers may even require a signed statement of faith. What’s one to do, then, when seeking out secular activities for children who are homeschooled? Here are some ideas.

Scouting

There are the two main scouting organizations – Girl Scouts and (Boy) Scouts*, and then some lesser-known scouting organizations. We’re heavily involved with Girl Scouts (I just signed up to co-lead my daughter’s troop), and since I also was a Girl Scout, I’m partial to the organization. My little guy is too young for Scouts as of yet, but when he’s old enough, he’ll join a Den. Other scouting organizations include: Navigators USA, Frontier Girls, SpiralScouts, and Campfire. Scouting helps build confidence, STEAM knowledge and skills, outdoor skills, leadership skills, and life skills. If you know of a scouting organization I haven’t mentioned, please share it in the comments.

4-H

4-H is another youth program that encourages skill development. 4-H programs cover STEM, agriculture, healthy living, and citizenship skills. There are no uniforms and no national fees, and projects can be selected to work with your family’s budget. 4-H programs are available for kids 8-19, and there’s a junior program available called “Cloverbud” for ages 5-7.

Programs at Museums and Zoos

Our area has a number of neat museums and two zoos – one local and one with in 30 minutes. They all offer various learning opportunities and classes for homeschoolers. Don’t limit yourself, though. See what programs your local museums and zoos have and take advantage of them. Even if a program isn’t specifically for homeschoolers, it will be a great opportunity for your young student to learn and interact with other kids with similar interests.

Library Programs

Most libraries have a variety of programs – from storytimes for younger children to LEGO events for older children, there’s a variety of possibilities for kids to meet other kids at the library who are into the same things as they are. Some libraries even have homeschool group meetups.

Parks and Recreation

We’re very lucky. Our Parks and Recreation classes cost as little as $9 a session, and most are around $20. All three of our young children take advantage of classes like gymnastics, art, and dance and basketball clinics. Be sure to check out opportunities near you for affordable classes. They’re particularly great for having kids get their feet wet in one activity without making a full commitment.

Sports Leagues and Gyms

Many of the gyms around us have homeschool days. Some even host sports teams for kids outside of school. We also have a lot of different sports leagues to choose from (benefits of being in a city). Call around, you may be surprised at the opportunities offered in your area.

Studios, Companies, Galleries, and Private Lessons

Here, we have galleries and studios offering some homeschool art and music lessons. This can be a great opportunity for getting out there and learning an extracurricular skill in the arts. Don’t overlook local theatre companies. My oldest found his passion in theatre by joining the local independent theatre company’s youth company. On that note, don’t forget to check out local dance studios, art galleries, and children’s choir and orchestra opportunities.

Local Institutions of Higher Ed

My 5 year old took violin lessons that were both group and solo from a music professor through the local university. Many colleges and universities offer programs for children through their various departments. Years ago, my oldest took a series of science courses aimed for late elementary and middle school students through the local university.

Local Meetup Groups, Facebook Groups, Co-Ops, and Clubs

As if you didn’t already have enough options already, each community usually has a group of homeschoolers or kids that meet up regularly. There are also board gaming clubs, extension programs, and co-ops. If you find that your local area doesn’t have a secular-friendly group, don’t fear. Put out some feelers on social media. Chances are, there are other parents like you who would like to meet up with secular-minded families.

So, when someone asks you, “but what about socialization?”, you now have a set of answers. In my community, there are more options and opportunities that any one family could ever reasonably participate in. I turn the question on you, now, what activities do your kids participate in?

Resource Review: Backyard Guide to the Night Sky

I love astronomy, and Miss 5 is a budding astronomer herself. While my lesson plans have us doing astronomy in 2nd, 6th, and 10th grades in a more methodical way, it’s nice to have resources to answer questions & provide information to her now. So, when I was asked if I’d like to review National Geographic’s Backyard Guide to the Night Sky, I jumped at the chance.

Like other National Geographic publications, like National Geographic’s Space Atlas, this guide is beautifully illustrated. It’s a nice size to throw in a purse or bag for taking to your local observatory or up into the treehouse. Learn about the different planets, stars, and space features. Perhaps the biggest use of this book for now will be the constellations guide, particularly as we move into warmer weather and spend more time outside. This book makes an outstanding addition to any homeschooler’s library of reference materials. There’s even a section on stargazing with your children.

About Backyard Guide to the Night Sky

• Paperback: 288 pages
• Publisher: National Geographic; 2 edition (March 19, 2019)

Explore the star-studded cosmos with this fully updated, user-friendly skywatcher’s guide, filled with charts, graphics, photographs, and expert tips for viewing — and understanding — the wonders of space.

Stargazing’s too much fun to leave to astronomers. In these inviting pages, “Night Sky Guy” Andrew Fazekas takes an expert but easygoing approach that will delight would-be astronomers of all levels. Essential information, organized logically, brings the solar system, stars, and planets to life in your own backyard. Start with the easiest constellations and then “star-hop” across the night sky to find others nearby. Learn about the dark side of the moon, how to pick Mars out of a planetary lineup, and which kinds of stars twinkle in your favorite constellations. Hands-on tips and techniques for observing with the naked eye, binoculars, or a telescope help make the most out of sightings and astronomical phenomena such as eclipses and meteor showers. Photographs and graphics present key facts in an easy-to-understand format, explaining heavenly phenomena such as black holes, solar flares, and supernovas. Revised to make skywatching even easier for the whole family, this indispensable guide shines light on the night sky–truly one of the greatest shows on Earth!

Social Media

Please use the hashtag #backyardguidetothenightsky and tag @tlcbooktours.

Purchase Links

National Geographic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Review: How to Know the Birds by Ted Floyd

We have a pesky cardinal that likes to say “hello” twice a day by attacking our windows. Every day I think, “I really should put some stickers on these windows,” and every day I forget about that thought. Mr. 3 likes to sit and watch said cardinal, and he’s filled with lots of questions about birds. In fact, everywhere we go, my budding ornithologist spots birds and asks about them. So when I was asked if I’d like to review How to Know the Birds by Ted Floyd, I said “yes” with him in mind.

While this book isn’t an identification guide (see this other post for a North American Birds identification guide), it is a good resource for families incorporating nature studies into their homeschooling routines to have on hand. How to Know the Birds will help you to delve deeper into the intricacies of birds and birdwatching and answer a lot of the questions kids come up with when observing birds. For example, the chapter using cardinals as a primary example is titled, “Sex and Gender,” and uses the male cardinal’s bright red color to discuss sexual dimorphism – where the male and female of a species appear different and then cautions against assuming that it’s always the male in a bird species that exhibits the more fanciful markings.

About How to Know the Birds

• Hardcover: 304 pages
• Publisher: National Geographic (March 12, 2019)

Become a better birder with brief portraits of 200 top North American birds. This friendly, relatable book is a celebration of the art, science, and delights of bird-watching.

How to Know the Birds introduces a new, holistic approach to bird-watching, by noting how behaviors, settings, and seasonal cycles connect with shape, song, color, gender, age distinctions, and other features traditionally used to identify species. With short essays on 200 observable species, expert author Ted Floyd guides us through a year of becoming a better birder, each species representing another useful lesson: from explaining scientific nomenclature to noting how plumage changes with age, from chronicling migration patterns to noting hatchling habits. Dozens of endearing pencil sketches accompany Floyd’s charming prose, making this book a unique blend of narrative and field guide. A pleasure for birders of all ages, this witty book promises solid lessons for the beginner and smiles of recognition for the seasoned nature lover.

Social Media

Please use the hashtag #howtoknowthebirds and tag @tlcbooktours.

Purchase Links

National Geographic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

How I’m Teaching My Preschooler

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Clicking on a link and making a purchase will result in me receiving a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. 

I don’t know about your kids, but my 3 year old has to do whatever his sister is doing, so we’ve been at this homeschooling thing for a bit. I was using just a hodge-podge of Dollar Tree workbooks and coloring books with him (after all, $1 is a very reasonable price for things when he goes through these books as fast as he does), but this month, we’re starting some more formal lessons. He already knows his letters, shapes, numbers, and colors, so my goal is to work with him on his fine motor skills and solidify what he already knows. I don’t want to do a lot with him, but just enough since he insists. Here’s what we do, it takes less than an hour a day (with the 20 minutes of reading books factored in.

Pre-Reading: All About Reading’s Pre-Reading Program

I liked the level one books so much, I made the decision to order the pre-reading program for him as well. He loves that his “learning activities” look like his big sister’s, and I like having things laid out in a lesson plan. We’re still also doing various things we’ve picked up from the dollar store as the extra practice.

Mathematics:

I’m using a couple of things – Critical Thinking Company’s Mathematical Reasoning Beginning 1 and Kumon Numbers 1-30 are the two main resources I’m using. I have other things that I pull out from time to time, but these are quick and simple.

Art & Music:

Mr. 3 is taking an art class that meets once a month, and he’s always coloring or painting something. We listen to a variety of music and talk about the composers and artists.

Literature, History, Science, STEM etc.

We’re members of the Amazon STEM toy of the month club. We also use What Your Preschooler Needs to KnowWe read a large variety of books in addition to what we do for reading. Mr. 3 also does a basketball class, zoo class, and a dance class.

Mostly, he plays, as well he should at this age. The only reason we do anything formal is he’ll be all up in my face begging me to do something when his sister is learning if I don’t give him his “work” first.

What do you do for preschool?

 

What I’m Using to Homeschool My Kindergartener

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Clicking on a link and making a purchase will result in me receiving a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. 

My 5-year-old is doing kindergarten, and has been since August, since she was 4 when I started, we wrapped up some of the unfinished preschool curriculum. After a long winter break, we’re looking forward to getting back to it. Here’s what we’re using right now (note: we don’t do all subjects all days, and the total time sitting – not counting science experiments, reading books together, art projects, music stuff, etc. is only about an hour and a half. The majority of her days are still spent playing.):

Reading:

We were using The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading by Jessie Wise and Sara Buffington. However, the curriculum really didn’t suit my gal, and I’d been really curious about what All About Reading had to offer. So, I switched it up. We’re now using level 1, and we love it. It’s hands-on, has reinforcing activities, and most importantly really works well with my gal’s learning style. They just came out with a color version, and it’s gorgeous. I’ll be talking more about that next week.

Penmanship/Writing:

For writing, we’re doing a lot of tracing of words and letters, but we’re also reinforcing proper letter formation using Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Grade K. We do a page or two each day. She loves this.

Spelling: MCP Spelling Workout A

I started with MCP Spelling Workout A before I switched to All About Reading. I’m on the fence about continuing with it or changing to All About Spelling Level 1 once we finish All About Reading Level 1 and begin Level 2 as recommended.

Literature:

For literature, I’m working on making sure she’s familiar with classics and contemporary picture books. We’re using a variety of resources as well as the book, fairy tales, poetry, nursery rhymes, etc. lists from What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know.

Math:

We’re using Singapore Math Essential Math Kindergarten A and B. We’re about halfway through book B, so we’ll be starting the “first grade” book probably in March if we keep moving at the pace she’s setting. She loves math.

Thinking Skills:

I’m using Kumon’s Kindergarten Thinking Skills Workbooks. We’ve almost finished the Logic book.

Science:

Science is kind of a hodge-podge, like literature. It’s partially interest-based, partially driven by what’s in What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know, and partially based on various science kits we have and fun experiment ideas I come across that fit the season/interests. I just got 180 Days of Science to add to the mix just to make sure we’re hitting all the standards and building a solid foundation for 1st grade. Science is another favorite subject, so we also read a lot of books on topics and watch YouTube videos.

Social Studies:

We’re reading a variety of picture books about historical events and biographies of great figures. We also read selections from What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know and discuss what we read. For geography, we’re using DK Geography, KindergartenWe also have a daily calendar we do, and we’re using My Book of Easy Telling Time. We also do a lot of talking about community roles and safety and other things.

Art:

We do a lot of art projects, drawing, coloring, etc. around here. She also has a class she does with her grandparents and loves.

Music:

We’re taking a break from violin at the moment. We listen to a variety of music, and I point out the different styles and talk about instruments and famous musicians.

Misc./Social Activities/P.E.

We’re doing Girl Scouts this year, and a dance class. She wants to do a running group for kids this spring. We also go to the local zoo’s classes as we can.

Happy New Year!

2018 was kind of an odd year around here. I’d hoped to have the blog more populated than it currently is, but life happens. That said, happy new year! It’s 2019 now, and we’re finishing out our winter break (It’s futile to attempt to homeschool while my 20-year-old is home visiting from college. It’s just too much excitement for my kindergartener and preschooler.) That said, I think they are as ready as I am to get back into our routine.

We have some new activities for the new year – Girl Scouts, basketball, hip hop dancing, and even Little Miss Ladybug will be taking a tot dance class. I’m really looking forward to all the fun opportunities this year. We managed to catch Paw Patrol Live over this past weekend, and the kids got a big kick out of it. I was impressed with it, I’d never seen a kids show live before, and was quite taken with the detail on the props and storyline.

What are your goals for 2019? For me, I want to make sure I’m adding in fun science and art projects. I’ll need to put them on the calendar to make sure that they get done. It’s not that I don’t enjoy doing them – I really do, and the kids love them. It’s just that when things get busy, those are often the first things that get set aside in the name of “saving time” and I’m tired of doing that.

I also have a personal goal of reading at least 12 books this year. I’m going to be started with Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale. I know, I know, I’m a little late to the game, but I binge-watched the show on Hulu while I was sick (I really don’t suggest doing that unless you’re a glutton for punishment), and now I feel the need to read the book.

I also want to make better use of our local secular homeschooling group and try to make meetings at least once a month. It can be hard when running a business from home and with no car, but I think it’s necessary to make a stronger effort.

What are your 2019 goals? Feel free to share them in the comments!